If you have not heard, Blue Mars is a new virtual world using current state of the art tech, described as a Next Generation Virtual World. It will be along the lines of Second Life, with significant differences. It is in Beta now and at the end of August the Beta will expand to a larger more open Beta. Tools for learning to build within Blue Mars are available now.
One of the bigger differences is content creation. Property rights are supposed to be better protected. Builders are more controlled. There are 3 levels of builders/creators, City, Block and Content. It seems a City builder is somewhat like the SIM/Region owner in Second Life (SL). A Block creator is more like a Parcel Owner in SL. Blue Mars (BM) block builders are restricted by the city builder they lease or rent from. Pricing to join any of these groups has not been released.
To sell anything in BM one must have a shop which is rented/obtained from a City or Block builder. The tools for building are free and provided by Avatar Reality, the creators of Blue Mars. One signs up to get the free tools. A real email address is required. There is a Blue Mars Developers Wiki. There is also a Blue Mars Developer Forum. It is pretty quiet right now.
As one learns more about BM it seems to be more of a business atmosphere than SL. I think there is a major flaw in the planning, but we’ll have to see. Consider why people and you spend time any where online. Typically one is there because they are having fun, escaping reality or looking for something (things or information) they need. Google is an example of a place where one looks for things they need. It is somewhat the Yellow Pages of the Internet. One really does not go to Google to see Google. Time spent on Google is about getting somewhere else.
A business site like Ford Motor Company or Toyota is a site you find via Google and then visit to get the information you want. Once satisfied you’re off to other things. If you watch TV you kick back and put up with the commercials. Cable and satellite companies charge you to watch them. The whole industry is based on one being entertained enough to justify the annoyance and cost. Why do people go into Second Life, EVE, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft or a Myst-Uru game? As best we can tell the majority go for entertainment and escapism.
What are the people doing in Second Life, the next closest virtual world to what Blue Mars appears to be? What are the industries and business that are there? Education is there in a big way. For internet delivered education there is no better platform. Will they change over to Blue Mars? BM has much to offer. Supposedly the building tools are better (mine are on order so I have yet to see them). Control of the content should prevent anatomically correct nude avatars from interrupting classes, which has been a problem from time to time in SL.
But where do the students come from? If the virtual world is used as an advertising medium then one needs people already there. If one is not attending classes why are they in SL? There are games and social activities. SL has lots of free games or near free games. Plus, there is sex. So much that SL has created a continent just for the adult industry. There are live concerts by real life artists. There is curiosity and business. But consistently there are 50k to 70k+ concurrent users logged in all day long seven days a week.
It looks like BM will have many of the same attractions. It is hard to tell where they stand on sex. If the omit it, that will be good for education and most business uses of BM. It will also eliminate a large portion of the interest in the BM virtual world. Will that make a significant difference? I think it is impossible to know. But it should be an interesting experiment.
It seems Avatar Reality is counting on businesses liking the atmosphere and the more socially restricted and responsible world. A large part of SL’s popularity is anonymity. It seems no builder in BM will be anonymous, which may be a good thing. But if that extends to all users, it could be a bad thing reducing the audience size. I don’t like giving out personal ID info on any online site. My Facebook page uses a photo so friends know me and I go by a nickname, alias email at Gmail, no phone number and a bogus birthday. The street address is tweaked to avoid junk mail. No point in making it easy for the ID thieves.
So, if the majority of BM users are business types interested in selling… where will the buyers come from? They have game makers building games. But BM and the games makers have to be making an investment and counting on people to come to BM. If they cannot overcome the lead SL has, that may not happen. In which case; the investments are at risk. It is going ahead because investors think it will work. Time will tell.
But a more business like environment may keep people (the buyer types) away and I think this may be the flaw in Avatar realities planning. Once we can get in we will see if it is a friendly place more like a sit-com offering fun and escape or a place for advertisers and marketers more like a 30 second commercial that has one reaching for the remote.
However, the Blue Mars trailer on YouTube gives you their idea. It may just work. The graphics will certainly give SL a challenge. If vehicles move in-world as nicely as they do in the trailers, SL has another serious challenge. But even this trailer has a certain marketing push…